Last Tuesday kicked off the first in a series of beer dinners hosted by Chef/Owner Daniel Mattern of Cooks County. The series, which will take place every Tuesday thru September 24th, were designed to highlight high-quality California beers with thoughtful food pairings. I had the good fortune of making it to the festival’s launch which featured the Rancho Santa Margarita-based Cismontane Brewing Company with Head Brewer Evan Weinberg in attendance. The intimate mid-city restaurant was jam packed by the time we made it in for our 8:30 reservations, so we advise you to plan ahead if you’re planning on checking any of these events out.
The beer-centric meal consisted of five courses paired with five beers. Chef Daniel had mentioned that he had made it a point to actually visit the breweries featured in the series to get a better understanding of how to properly plan his menu. I’ve gone to many beer dinners over the years, and this one was definitely a hit from start to finish.
Here’s a re-cap from their first event:
First Course: “Mesa” Cured Salmon Roe
Chef Daniel takes a classic and adorns a buckwheat blini with cream, chive, and delicate salmon roe to create a refreshing first bite. Paired with Cismontane’s Mesa (75% Pilsner, 25% Riesling wine), the beer’s light sweetness compliments the blini’s clean impression on the palate.
Second Course: Beer-Battered “Fish Fries”
This sharable fried appetizer is no stranger to the average pub menu, but in Cooks County’s version we see thinner, finger-like pieces of fish battered in Cismontane’s (uncommon) version of a California Common. The Citizen’s adequate burst of hops lends this amber-colored brew just enough bite to cut through the fried fish.
Third Course:White Shrimp & Melon Salad
Smokey shrimp, pickled greens, and ripe honeydew melon balanced well in this texturally pleasing dish. The salad was dressed in a pickled chili and “sour grass” vinaigrette which paired well with Oxalis– Cismontane’s sour blond ale.
Fourth Course: Ale-soaked Rabbit Leg & Rilletes Toast
This was definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night. Fall-of-the-bone tender rabbit leg soaked in ale atop a bed of braised French lentils and pounded herbs. The meat was lean, well-seasoned, and not at all gamey while the lentils provided a rich backbone for the Coulter IPA to wash over. A solid dish for a solid IPA.
Fifth Course: Beeramisu
It’s Tiramisu…but with beer! And my, must I tell you that this was the clincher for our table (and many others). Layers of creamy, chocolatey, coffee-infused goodness with trickles of Cismontane’s Black’s Dawn Imperial Stout. Delicate mascarpone cream helped this pairing stay balanced and not too heavy.
The price of the dinners will range from $45 to $50 and reservations are strongly recommended. Check out the rest of the California Beer and Food Festival schedule here:
8/13 Craftsman Brewing Co., Pasadena, CA
8/20 The Bruery, Placentia, CA
8/27 Eagle Rock Brewery, LA, CA
9/10 Almanac Beer Co., San Francisco, CA
9/17 Strand Brewing Co., Torrance, CA
9/24 Ladyface Ale Companie, Agoura Hills, CA
Cooks County is located at Cooks County 8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, California. | www.cookscountyrestaurant.com | #cabeerandfoodfest